October 21, 2018

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Red River College cutting jobs, programs to cope with funding shortfall

JEN DOERKSEN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES</p><p>Red River College President and CEO Paul Vogt says the institution is operating under "increased fiscal restraint" due, in part, to a decrease in operating grants.</p>

JEN DOERKSEN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Red River College President and CEO Paul Vogt says the institution is operating under "increased fiscal restraint" due, in part, to a decrease in operating grants.

Red River College is laying off three instructors, closing two programs and reducing six others, and hiking tuition to cope with a $953,000 decrease in its provincial operating grant and other financial factors, the Free Press has learned.

Tuition costs for all programs will rise by $250, effective this fall.

The greenspace horticulture and geographic information systems technology programs are being closed. The layoffs, effective in July, are slated to occur in those areas, a college spokesman said.

Going forward, Red River will also fund four programs -- including pharmaceutical manufacturing and health-care aide training in Winnipeg -- through student fees only, rather than through a combination of fees and government funding.

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Red River College is laying off three instructors, closing two programs and reducing six others, and hiking tuition to cope with a $953,000 decrease in its provincial operating grant and other financial factors, the Free Press has learned.

Tuition costs for all programs will rise by $250, effective this fall.

The greenspace horticulture and geographic information systems technology programs are being closed. The layoffs, effective in July, are slated to occur in those areas, a college spokesman said. 

Going forward, Red River will also fund four programs — including pharmaceutical manufacturing and health-care aide training in Winnipeg — through student fees only, rather than through a combination of fees and government funding.

Enrolments are being reduced for such programs as carpentry, plumbing and nursing (degree program) and business administration (diploma program).

In an email June 8 to all Red River staff on the college's recently approved 2018-19 budget, president and chief executive officer Paul Vogt said the institution is operating under "increased fiscal restraint" due, in part, to a decrease in operating grants. Apprenticeship revenues are also projected to drop by $669,000, he said.

"We are carefully balancing these decreases in revenue with administrative program cost reductions and targeting available funds to other priority areas," Vogt said.

The college said the programs being cut or reduced have low enrolment and reduced market demand. 

Students already enrolled in the affected programs won’t be impacted by the changes.

Meanwhile, the college is adding seven new (or significantly revised) programs, including courses on social enterprise, Indigenous languages and culinary skills for Indigenous students.

In a statement Tuesday, Michelle Gawronsky, president of the Manitoba Government and General Employees' Union, which represents 1,585 RRC instructors and other staff, said it's "a real shame that government-ordered cuts are now costing college instructors their jobs" and weakening programs for students.

"Cutting education programs while driving up tuition is not how you create a bright future for young Manitobans to stay here and build our province," she said.

In his email to staff, Vogt said the college is preparing for ongoing fiscal restraint.

"It will be a challenging environment, but we must ensure we are continuing to respond to industry and labour force needs," he said. "Addressing key trends in higher education will require significant changes to the way education programs are planned and delivered."

The college has already reduced management levels by 15 per cent, he noted. Staff salaries are being kept in check through a provincially mandated salary freeze.

larry.kusch@freepress.mb.ca

Larry Kusch

Larry Kusch
Legislature Reporter

Larry Kusch didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life until he attended a high school newspaper editor’s workshop in Regina in the summer of 1969 and listened to a university student speak glowingly about the journalism program at Carleton University in Ottawa.

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History

Updated on Tuesday, June 12, 2018 at 6:37 PM CDT: Fixes typo in photo caption

June 13, 2018 at 7:59 AM: Note students already enrolled in the affected programs won’t be impacted by the changes.

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